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Christ, the perfect Redeemer and Lawgiver, had come from God also. And so the Apostle, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, compares Mount Sion with Mount Sinai, even while he is contrasting them. For there, too, should be seen all the signs of God, His power, and His wisdom, and His love; only His power itself was to show itself in works of love and not of terror. His power was shown in the great company of the worshippers, that out of every land men were turned unto Him, and His word beginning at Jerusalem, had triumphed even to the ends of the earth. His power was shown in the person of Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant ; for he was dead, and is alive for evermore; and having so overcome death, He hath opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Further, His power was shown also in the gifts of his Holy Spirit; His signs and wonders, done by the Apostles, and by those on whom the Apostles laid their hands; His better and more enduring signs and wonders, done, not by the Apostles only, and by the men of one generation, but by thousands in a thousand generations; the signs of the renewed heart and the converted will; the signs of peace, and hope,
And as there were the signs of God's power on Mount Sion as well as on Mount Sinai, though of a different kind, so also were there the signs of His wisdom and of His goodness, differing from those shown on Mount Sinai, not in kind, but in degree. There were the wisdom and the goodness of Christ's law of liberty, fitted for the highest perfection to which men could possibly ascend, and admitting of nothing wiser or better. These signs we have ; these are the signs enjoyed by the Church of God in her worship on God's holy mountain,-a sure token that He, by whom she was redeemed and brought to this holy mountain, was her true prophet, her true deliverer ; that her redemption from first to last was the work of God alone.
So, then, we are on God's holy mountain, and He is with us. The first Israel abode for a certain time before Mount Sinai ; but then they went on their way through the wilderness. But we are worshipping, if it be not our own fault, on the mountain of God always. The signs of His presence are ever before us, that we may see and believe. But as Israel feared the thunder and the fire, so we despise the milder signs that are offered to us ; we see, and do not believe. It is so, and it is our sin and our shame that it is so. But is not our sin yet greater, if we not only despise the signs of God, but are actually engaged in obscuring or defacing them ? if we not only do iniquity ourselves, but offend others; that is, cause others, through our fault, to fall the more readily ?
I am not speaking now of what I have so often spoken of, the difficulties which we throw in the way
of others,—I do not say deliberately, but at any rate wilfully,—when by laughing, or persuading, or by any other influence, we actually do turn our neighbour away from good to bad. I am not speaking of this, but of a fault common to us all, at every age and in all circumstances. We are too apt to lessen, to obscure, to deface for each other the signs of God's presence amongst us; we live with one another nominally in the bonds of God's holy Church, rather to hinder each other in our Christian course than to forward.
For manifestly do we hinder our brethren rather than help them, by every mark of unbelief and of evil that we show in our own hearts and lives; we so far deface the signs of God's presence, we lessen the assurance that we are on His holy mountain. Our faith is weak; who does not know and feel that it is so ? God is not visible to us, nor can we see beyond the grave; and therefore there is a weakness of faith in each of us naturally, and through the effect of our corruption, which wants all the strength which it can derive from others; which is chilled yet more, when it can perceive but too plainly in them the marks of the same weakness.
To meet this evil, this unbelief arising from our natural corruption, to give to each of us the help which we singly need, the Church of Christ was instituted. For if, as we are brethren, we rendered to each other a brotherly aid, how great would be the
confidence which we should catch from that visibly reflected in the hearts and lives of all around us; how real would God's presence be, how real His blessings and his promises, if all about us were living evidences to them, either in assured hope or in actual possession.
And if the whole Church with accordant utterance were to give out in action this most holy creed, this living confession of a true faith, where would unbelief be able yet to linger? What heart would be buried in such thick darkness as that such multiplied rays of God's Spirit should not disperse the gloom?
This were, indeed, a true creed, a holy unity; this would be to fulfil the purposes for which we were bound together in union. If we do not possess these, vain, and worse than vain, is any care after other creeds and another unity. All may speak the same words, but they will be words and no more : the faith will be in the tongue, and not in the heart; we shall not really help each other, but hinder.
March 20th, 1836.
(Fifth Sunday in Lent.)
WARS OF THE ISRAELITES.
DEUTERONOMY vii. 2-4.
Thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt
make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them : neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods.
There is, perhaps, no point on which the weakness of human nature is more clearly shown, than in the difficulty of treading the right path between persecution on the one hand, and indifference to evil on the other. For although we are, it may be, disposed according to our several tempers more to one of these faults than to the other; yet I fear it is true also that none of us are free from the danger of falling into them both. Not certainly that this can happen at the same time, and towards the same persons; but if we have to-day been too violent